Greek Prime Minister and former President Clinton addressed the inaugural event of the Hellenic Initiative. Niarchos Foundation commits 100 ml Euros for youth programs.
New York.- by Apostolos Zoupaniotis
Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras concluded his U.S. visit with an appearance at the inaugural banquet of the Hellenic Initiative, during which 1.9 million dollars were collected to be distributed in Greek philanthropic institutions. But the most important news came from the Co-President and Member of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Board, Andreas C. Dracopoulos, who has announced a call to action to help create new opportunities for Greece’s younger generations, which are severely impacted by the country’s current and alarming unemployment rate. The Foundation has committed a long-term grant of €100 million towards this effort, through the Hellenic Initiative.
Earlier in a press conference, the Hellenic Initiative announced new initiatives to promote a culture of entrepreneurship and catalyze economic development. The Hellenic Initiative (THI) is a global, nonprofit, secular institution whose vision is to mobilize the Greek Diaspora and philhellene community to support sustainable economic renewal for Greece and its people.
The event honored three outstanding individuals for their service to people of Greece: Andreas Dracopoulos, Co-President of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation; Muhtar Kent, Chairman and CEO, The Coca-Cola Company; and Andrew N. Liveris, Chairman and CEO of The Dow Chemical Company. During the ceremony, they were recognized for their longstanding commitment and many contributions to Greece, especially in response to the economic crisis.
“Greece cannot be defined only by five years. Greece must be defined by twenty five hundred years. So, you are our heart and our heart beats together with the Diaspora. Indeed, Greece is back! Μαζί! (Together)”, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras closed his emotional speech at the banquet, in front of 600 of the wealthiest members of the Greek American Community, including master of ceremonies George Stephanopoulos, Ambassador John Negroponte. A separate meeting between Samaras and Clinton was held in the margins of the event.
In a statement to the press after the event, Samaras expressed his appreciation to the organizers and noted that their presence was “sending out a unique energy”, underlining that “if all these people offer their help till the end Greece will be given a very considerable boost”.
He said that the future of the young people is the greatest concern for everybody and added that this is his own concern as well; pointing out that this was the purpose of his trip to the United States. The goal is to reduce unemployment, attract new investments and create new jobs, he said.
Referring to his contacts in the United States he said that they were “excellent”.
Addressing the Hellenic Initiative event, former US President Clinton stressed that he will do everything in his power to help Greece. He referred to his visit to Athens in July 2012 and the meeting he had with Prime Minister Samaras, underlining that they share the same optimism as regards the future of Greece.
He spoke about global and regional developments and expressed confidence that the Greek people will rebuild their country.
Addressing the Greek-American community, Clinton underlined the need for solidarity and support.
“The Hellenic Initiative was created to harness the desire and energy expressed by the Greek Diaspora to help Greece in its time of need. The collective voices of a growing and very driven group of leaders in the Greek American community founded THI and the success of our inaugural banquet is a demonstration that we can have great impact when given the opportunity to unify around a set of objectives,” said Andrew N. Liveris. “The attendance and funds raised last night is evidence that our community is again rising to the call to give back; not just in funds but also in programs that invest in the next generation. We look forward to even more success through our new Diaspora campaign, OneGreece.org.”
During the event Muhtar Kent encouraged guests to get involved. “This is a very personal and urgent cause for us. Greece needs our help today, not tomorrow or the day after,” Kent said. “As a global community we need to support the nonprofits that provide a crucial safety net to families impacted by the crisis and promote investment and stimulus to get the economy moving again.”
The Niarchos Foundation was recognized for its leadership in providing crisis relief in Greece and as a partner to shape THI’s own humanitarian programs that have committed $1 million to local relief organizations.
“It is the role of the global Greek community – in Greece and across the Diaspora – to step up and address the ongoing crisis taking an economic and humanitarian toll on the country. Crisis relief provides a stable foundation for any effort to rebuild the Greek economy,” said Andreas Dracopoulos.
Accepting the award on behalf of the Board of Directors of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, Andreas Dracopoulos committed a long-term grant of €100 million towards creating opportunities for the younger generation in Greece. The unemployment rate for young people in Greece is more than 60%, according to the latest official measurement by the Hellenic Statistics Authority in August 2013.
“The situation is dire,” stated Andreas C. Dracopoulos. “As labor economists have consistently pointed out, contrary to any other age group, being unemployed at a young age continues to impact people throughout most of their adult lives. We need to recharge the youth and create prospects now before a generation or several are lost.”
The Foundation is well-aware that changing the current landscape cannot be attained through the commitment of funds alone, however significant they may be. The creation of new opportunities requires innovation and the collaboration and convergence of different sectors including public, private, and philanthropy.
To that end, the Foundation will convene a conference, which will bring together economists, policy makers, foundations, NGOs, government officials and businessmen, for the sole purpose of exploring enterprising initiatives that can lead to job creation and growth, as well as investigate programs that provide job opportunities—all promising proposals will then be implemented effectively and immediately. The conference will take place in New York City at the beginning of 2014.
This new commitment comes nearly two years after the Foundation dedicated a €100 million grant over a three-year period (2012-2015) to help ease the adverse effects of the deepening crisis in Greece. Since then, and as part of the initiative, the SNF has committed grants totaling €72.1 million in support of numerous not-for-profit organizations around the country.
The Foundation’s first €100,000,000 initiative was in its majority a short-term immediate relief effort, aiming to help people survive the staggering consequences of the severe socioeconomic crisis, and withstand the crumbling of the existing support system. In contrast, the new initiative is strategic and long-term in nature. The issue at hand is such that requires long-term planning, research, proactive engagement, and careful execution, and the development of new innovative solutions.
Youth unemployment is critically high in Greece, but it is a serious problem that confronts most developed economies. In announcing this new initiative, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation aims not only to help the unemployed youth in Greece, but also to develop a paradigm, a forum and a debate on effective ways to address the issue on a much broader level.
The Stavros Niarchos Foundation (www.SNF.org) is one of the world’s leading international philanthropic organizations, making grants in the areas of arts and culture, education, health and medicine, and social welfare. The Foundation funds organizations and projects that exhibit strong leadership and sound management and are expected to achieve a broad, lasting and positive social impact. The Foundation also seeks actively to support projects that facilitate the formation of public-private partnerships as effective means for serving public welfare.
From 1996 until today, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation has approved grant commitments of $1.39 billion / €1.06 billion, through 2,511 grants to nonprofit organizations in 109 nations around the world. Excluding the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center (SNFCC), the Foundation’s funding is equally divided between grants in Greece and international ones.
The Foundation, concerned with the continuing socio-economic crisis in Greece, announced in January 2012 a grant initiative of additional $130 million (€100 million) over three years to help ease the adverse effects of the deepening crisis. Since then, and as part of the initiative, the SNF has committed grants totaling $93.2 million (€72.1 million) in support of numerous not-for-profit organizations around the country.
The Foundation’s largest single gift ($796 million / €566 million) is the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center (SNFCC), in Athens. Construction works at the site have already begun. The Stavros Niarchos Foundation firmly believes that the project is of national importance, even more so under the current socio-economic conditions. It remains a testament and a commitment to the country’s future, at a critical historical juncture. It is also an engine of short- to mid-term economic stimulus, which is essential under the current circumstances.
New initiatives announced by the Hellenic Initiative during a press conference include:
1.Global Awareness and Fundraising Campaign.
– OneGreece.org: A global campaign to encourage the Diaspora and friends of Greece to contribute to THI’s programs around relief, recovery, and renewal. The campaign was launched with “We are One Greece,” an inspirational video of voices from the global Greek community.
– The Hellenic Entrepreneurship Award launches new businesses through intensive mentorship, business support and seed funding. Managed by the Libra Group, which has committed over €5 million ($6,8 million) to this award, the program selects entrepreneurs based on demonstrated innovation, potential for job creation, financial discipline and social responsibility.
– The Hellenic Center for Entrepreneurship is a new program designed to foster more – and more successful – entrepreneurs by building the foundational skills critical to creating sustainable businesses. The Center will be led by respected Greek educational institutions and staffed by entrepreneurs in residence.
– The THI Export Accelerator will focus on more established entrepreneurs ready to expand in the export markets. Starting in the food sector, the Accelerator will introduce high-performing Greek brands to potential customers in the U.S. market with the aim of increasing sales, production and job creation.
3. Economic Development
– The Hellenic Investment Fund is an impact investment fund targeting a “double bottom line” of investment returns and job growth. The fund will provide growth equity to small and midsized companies that are the backbone of the Greek economy and whose success is critical to fueling its recovery. It is a standalone, for-profit fund managed by investment professionals. THI will have no management or investment authority.
– The Fellowship for a New Economy invests in human capital – the mindsets and capabilities required to shape sustainable growth over the long-term. Through the Fellowship, early-and mid-career Greek professionals will complete 12-month rotations in leading U.S. businesses, building the functional skills and mindsets to guide strategic growth in core economic sectors. Fellows will also participate in a rigorous professional development program to create a community of change leaders committed to a shared vision of the future.
Since its founding in 2012 by Andrew N. Liveris, Muhtar Kent, George M. Logothetis, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Libra Group, and George Stamas, Partner, Kirkland and Ellis LLP, The Hellenic Initiative has seen significant growth both in scale and in the support offered by the Greek diaspora and by individual and corporate sponsors. Within the last year, the organization launched the Hellenic Entrepreneurship Award, contributed a total of $1 million to programs focused on crisis relief, and developed a visionary and aggressive set of programs focused on ensuring a strong future for Greece.